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The Residents - The Tunes of Two Cities CD (album) cover

THE TUNES OF TWO CITIES

The Residents

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.49 | 34 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars Another part of the Mole Trilogy in four parts'. Hmmm, I was not expecting much as parts 1 and 4 were very droll. However, I was determined to listen to this to complete the series; all in one sitting I might add so this was quite an ordeal. I like what The Residents do with their music in that they turn convention on its head and break through barriers and nobody can argue that they are an acquired taste. I wonder though what was in their minds when releasing this saga about the two races, the Chubs and The Moles. To reiterate for the uninitiated, the Chubs are the swinging jazz lovers that have the high life above ground and do what they want and have a blast not giving a toss about the hapless Moles who are 'working down below' and are determined to find some solace in the high life above. In Part 1 the Moles were forced out of their flooded tunnels to the surface and an uprising occurred where a war broke out and devastation resulted; a war of racial intolerance.

On this next part in the saga 'The Tunes of Two Cities' we have the inimitable Snakefinger which for me was a breath of fresh air as I always loved his part in the band as guitarist and vocalist. The Tunes are from the two races; the Moles are dark, deep resonating tunes, and the Chubs are jazz fusion atonalities. A nice idea that works better than the other albums in the saga. The album opens with instrumentals 'Serenade for Missy', jazzy dissonance, and 'A Maze of Jigsaws' just plain weirdness from the Moles side. 'Mousetrap' is a piano and synth competition. It has the quirky whimsical jazzy humour that the Residents are only capable of. I began to realise that this was an instrumental album primarily with just a few moments of la la las and that suits me fine as often Residents ruin albums with raving and monotonous chants such as on the abysmal 'The Big Bubble' that should be avoided like the plague.

On with the album, and we have 'God of Darkness' which is more tribal native music from the intrepid Moles clan. It is similar to a lot of what we hear on the first part of the trilogy, complete with chants and odd repeated noises. The saving grace of jazz atonality follows with 'Smack Your Lips (Clap Your Teeth)', from the Chubs race, that have more musical sense for my tastes. Snakefinger's guitar is a highlight as always, just a weird phased sound and there's some cool little synth lines and horns to add to the soundscape. The pieces representing The Moles are certainly as droll as those off of 'Mark of the Mole'. 'Praise for the Curse' is dark and dreary synth burblings with a drum beat, 'The Secret Seed' is chimes that twinkle and clank over a bass drum rhythm and is too long and monotonus. The swinging jazz of the Chubs is wonderful such as 'Smokebeams' with its cool jazz flavour, lots of horns, trumpets and jazz time sigs.

'Mourning the Undead' is a clattering machine noise that drones on like being in a factory reminding me of 'New Machine' from the first album in the trilogy. This is highly strange but compelling as one out of the box among these tracks. It would make a great song to play in a factory; Residents capture the monotonous atmosphere perfectly. 'Song of the Wild' is a sad little tune with some interesting effects on the synths. The sounds are high pitched and unsettling. 'The Evil Disposer' returns to the native sounds of Moles with a lot of percussion and doomy factory like synths. Home [Excerpt from Act II of Innisfree]' is a bass drum and improvised music on horn synths, and repeated noises.

Of the whole four albums in the so called trilogy, this part is most successful but I still regard 'Tunes of two Cities' as a weaker entry in The Residents massive catalogue. 2.5 stars for the Chubs songs with that weird jazz sound. Round it off to 3 for the delirious unique atmospheres.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |

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